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Entertaining the Nation! Stars of Music, Stage and Screen

On 25 May 2011, the Jewish Museum will open a major new blockbuster exhibition Entertaining the Nation!, telling the fascinating and untold story of Jewish participation in the British entertainment industry, from theatre and film, to television and pop music. This is the museum’s biggest and most high profile exhibition since its celebrated relaunch last year, following a £10m redevelopment.

Over the past 125 years, Jewish people have played a significant role in entertaining our nation, from the Music Halls of the Victorian era to the wide range of entertainment outlets we are used to today. Their work has made us laugh and cry, on the silver screen and small screen, in theatre, comedy and music, and their influence has been behind the scenes as well as in the foreground.

The exhibition will demonstrate the importance of immigration and diversity as a source for cultural creativity in Britain. It will tell the story of recognisable names from past and present, including actors Maureen Lipman, Warren Mitchell, Sid James and Ron Moody; comedians Peter Sellers, Simon Amstell and Sacha Baron Cohen; musicians Frankie Vaughan, Alma Cogan, Marc Bolan and Amy Winehouse; writers Jack Rosenthal, Harold Pinter and Stephen Poliakoff; and director Mike Leigh. Through them, the exhibition looks at the representation of Jews in popular culture and analyses the changing nature of Jewish depiction on stage and screen.

Jewish people have also influenced the business of entertainment: Oscar Deutsch founded Odeon cinemas; Michael Balcon, the son of Jewish immigrants, was responsible for producing the archetypal English ‘Ealing’ film comedies of the post-war era; Jeremy Isaacs oversaw the launch of Channel 4 and his eventual successor as Chief Executive was Michael Grade. In the music business, Brian Epstein masterminded the sensational rise of The Beatles, Andrew Loog Oldham publicised and produced records for The Rolling Stones and Malcolm McLaren was the driving force behind The Sex Pistols.

All these stories, and many more, will be told in Entertaining the Nation in a ground-breaking and glamorous exhibition that combines a variety of clips from a great selection of shows, films and performances, alongside costumes, props, vintage photographs and posters, allowing the visitor to step in to the alluring world of celebrity.

This exhibition will provide glitz and glamour, but beneath the enticing surface, thought-provoking issues will also be raised: how have media representations of Jews and other minorities changed over time and what role do they play in shaping the public imagination? How have their backgrounds and experience helped to shape British entertainment? What attitudes do Jews in the entertainment industry have to their own ethnicity and how is this reflected in their work?

The exhibition has been made sponsored by The Blavatnik Family Foundation, Rothschild Foundation (Europe), Act Productions limited, WPP and Manhatten Loft Corpopration. The exhibition will be accompanied by an exciting and wide-ranging programme of events at the Jewish Museum, in Camden Town, including film seasons, comedy nights, gigs, plays, and talks.

For more information contact Jessica Hope on 0207 284 7384 or

Thursday 1st December, 2011

Press & filming

If you are interested in writing an article, using an image, or filming at the Jewish Museum London please contact Hannah Talbot, Head of Marketing, Communications and PR on +44 (0)20 7284 7356 or email 


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